Interviewing is a critical and common part of any job search experience, and students interested in working in classroom teaching post-graduation are no exception.
Depending on the size of the school district to which you are applying, your initial interview may be with an administrator from a specific school or with a personnel director for an entire district. In either case, your strategy in preparing for the interview will be similar, although an interview in a personnel office is likely to be a shorter screening interview.
What is your philosophy on classroom management?
School administrators want to know that you will be able to keep your classroom under control. Philosophies regarding classroom management also vary widely, and the interviewer will be interested in whether your particular philosophy of discipline is compatible with the school’s. For example, if you’re interviewing for a position in a school that places a great deal of importance on positive reinforcement, the interviewer will be looking for evidence that this is at the heart of your classroom management techniques.
When talking about classroom management, be honest about the way that you plan to deal with behavioral problems. You may be asked about how you handle specific scenarios, such as a student bullying another student. Make sure to have a disciplinary plan that consists of several different steps. This way, if the interviewer asks, “If that doesn’t work, what will you do?” you’ll have a ready answer.
It’s also important that your classroom management plan include preventative strategies. For example, you may want to stress the way that your organizational systems reinforce order in the classroom. Interviewers will look for evidence that you see classroom management as something that extends beyond discipline.
How do you plan to communicate with parents?
When answering this question, be sure to address the variety of different circumstances under which you may communicate with parents. These may include sending out student progress reports, calling parents of students who are having academic and/or behavioral problems, and dealing with complaints from parents. Be sure to let the hiring committee know that you are willing to work with parents—even parents who are unresponsive or difficult—in a positive, constructive way.
How do you address the needs of students with different learning styles and abilities?
The importance of differentiated instruction is a hot topic in education; it is also something that many teachers find difficult. Therefore, principals actively seek out teaching candidates who are able to support struggling students while at the same time challenging students who are performing at an advanced level.
How do you assess your students’ understanding of a given concept?
The way you reflect upon your success in the classroom is critical. An interviewer wants reassurance that you are able to tell whether or not your students “get” a given concept. Therefore, you should be prepared to describe the evidence of understanding that you look for in your students, as well as how you use student performance on tests and projects as a way of assessing your own progress as a teacher.
What strategies do you use to motivate and engage your students?
Interviewers want evidence that you will make it a priority to inspire and motivate your students by tapping into their interests and giving them opportunities to feel successful and valued in your classroom.
This post was adapted from the Vault Career Guide to Education, by Vault Careers.